Five Birds of a Feather

One mantra: migration, migration, migration

By Katharine Shilcutt January 4, 2015 Published in the January 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Even as Migratory Animals, the debut novel by Rice graduate Mary Helen Specht, goes on sale this month, the author, a migratory animal herself who now lives in Austin, will discuss it on January 22 at Brazos Bookstore. It got us discussing too—the myriad migrations, both seasonal and permanent, that Houston plays host to.

Animal: Hawk

How to identify: Raptors possessing compact, chunky bodies and large, reddish-brown heads
Migration period(s): August to November
Seasonal habits: Hunts small animals from perches beneath the tree canopy
Migratory locus: Smith Point, Bolivar Peninsula

Animal: Hummingbird

How to identify: Green plumage (ruby-throated variety only); orange-red plumage (rufous variety)
Migration period(s): August to October; March to May
Seasonal habits: Fattens up on small insects and nectar from backyard feeders
Migratory locus: The backyard with the most hummingbird feeders

Animal: Chinese and/or Mexican Nationals

How to identify: Prada outfit; Louboutin heels; Fendi sunglasses; Louis Vuitton luggage; multiple shopping bags; cash-stuffed wallets
Migration period(s): Year-round, up to five times per year
Seasonal habits: Purchases high-end consumer goods unavailable and/or highly taxed in the country of origin
Migratory locus: The Galleria, The Woodlands

Animal: Energy Trader

How to identify: Blue button-up Banana Republic shirt (sleeves down, cufflinks) tucked into Brooks Brothers slacks; product in hair; leased Mercedes or BMW; gigantic Breitling wristwatch
Migration period(s): Post-graduation from Vanderbilt or Tulane
Seasonal habits: Constantly tells you how much better home state is; fist bumps; orders Red Bull and vodka at craft cocktail bars; plans to move to NYC “soon”
Migratory locus: Downtown, Midtown

Animal: Petroleum Engineer

How to identify: Blue button-up Bonobos shirt (sleeves rolled up) tucked into slacks from The Gap; homebrewing equipment in garage next to Toyota Highlander or Chevy Tahoe; hardhat and North Face fleece in backseat
Migration period(s): Post-assignment from Midland, Tulsa, or Alberta
Seasonal habits: Puts kids through private school; defends BP America or Baker Hughes over objections of environmentalist/liberal friends; worries fracking is just a Ponzi scheme; contemplates life post–early retirement
Migratory locus: Energy Corridor, Memorial

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